Add a seat at Thanksgiving for a four-legged friend from Berkley Animal Shelter
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - Berkeley Animal Center is allowing people to take home a shelter animal for the week of Thanksgiving in the hopes of reducing its population.
Berkeley Animal Center Manager Tiffany Hoffman said the shelter is extremely overcrowded right now.
They have approximately 100 dogs and several cats that they need to get into foster care. She said that by doing this Thanksgiving program, they hope to empty the shelter out for the entire week and potentially find permanent homes for these animals. They do this program every year.
The shelter will provide everything the animals need to the foster parents. They will provide crates, food, toys, bedding, medicine, and a 24/7 emergency foster line.
Hoffman said that in fostering a pet for the holiday you are not only helping the animals, but you are also helping the shelter staff.
“The animals need to get some time out of the shelter. When it comes down to it, we take good care of our animals, we love our animals, but they need quiet time. They need time in a home. They need one-on-one,” Hoffman said. “That way we can learn about them but also over the holidays, the staff here is very hard-working. The volunteers are very hard-working and they want to spend time with their families as well so it is it’s a win-win. The animals get time out, the staff gets some time out. Everyone wants what’s best for the animals and bringing the community together – that’s the best way to do it.”
Hoffman said that if you have pets already, they encourage you to bring them in with you and do a meet-and-greet with the shelter animal before fostering, so they can make sure it is a good fit.
Hoffman said they are always looking for “unicorn fosters.” A “unicorn foster” is someone who has the perfect home setup to take in these animals.
For example, Hoffman said it could be someone without pets or kids, and maybe a fenced-in yard – just an overall perfect environment for these shelter animals. She said that no matter what your circumstances are, though, they will have a fit for you.
She said you can come in and they will discuss what you are looking for and find the right animal for you - they want to find homes for these animals. They have cats and dogs of all different ages and sizes so Hoffman is confident that she can find the right pet for you.
Hoffman said the difference in behavior and well-being of these animals when they can get out of their cages for just a few days is amazing.
“Personally, I have been fostering for years and I just see the difference in such a small area of time for an animal. I mean, we at the shelter have seen it, where an animal goes out and the before picture in even a week, a week in a home, the animal comes back it’s just relaxed, it’s starting its decompression and it’s just such a huge difference and we learn so much.”
Patti Bomyea has been a volunteer, transport driver and foster parent for the shelter for two years now. She considers herself a “cat savior.” She said that she encourages everyone to foster and give these animals some freedom for even a small period of time.
“They’re out of a cage. Think of you, how you would be in a cage for two days and then have a chance to get out for five days and run around and play and meet new puppies, new kittens, new people - it’s freedom,” Bomyea said. “[You] should do it because it warms your heart and you’re giving them a home and you’re socializing them to go out and find their forever home and so they can give that unconditional love to their new foster family.”
Bomyea has done a lot of fostering over the years and even has three “foster fails.” This means she fostered the animals and ended up deciding to adopt them. She has two cats and one dog from the shelter. She said that people may say she helped the animals, but she sees it the other way around.
“They rescue me. They save me. So anybody who wants to come and foster just know, kitten therapy is the best therapy out there and you’re really - you’re saving yourself also along with the kittens,” Bomyea said. “That’s how I feel. I love them all.”
The shelter is allowing people to come in anytime Tuesday or Wednesday between 1-5 p.m. to pick up an animal for the holiday. Their plan is to have these animals in homes until at least Nov. 28. Hoffman said if you are unable to foster, they are also always looking for volunteers and donations. To volunteer, you do not have to sign up anywhere, just simply show up at 10 a.m. on your chosen date. If donating is more your style, Hoffman said they are also currently in desperate need of blankets and toys for the winter season.
Hoffman said if you’re interested in fostering, but maybe do not want to commit to that long of a time frame, they always have their “Doggie-Day-Out” program, where you can take a dog out just for the day. She said this is every Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. She said the dogs absolutely love this and it helps them to learn more about their behavior. More information can be found on the shelter’s Facebook page. All of their animals available for foster can be found by clicking here.
Hoffman said they will have more opportunities to give back this upcoming holiday season. They have a holiday donation wish list that can also be found on their Facebook page and their angel tree. They said if you have a business and would be interested in having an angel tree or donation box, to contact the shelter. Their contact information can be found here: https://animalcenter.berkeleycountysc.gov/home/contact-us/.
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